DALLAS – Today in Aviation, Dan-Air (DA) became the first British airline to operate the Boeing 727 in 1973. Its inaugural revenue flight departed Manchester (MAN) bound for Alicante (ALC).
Despite being the world’s best-selling airliner at the time, airlines in the UK had been slow to operate the trijet.
In November 1972, DA purchased three former Japan Airlines (JL) 727-100s. The carrier wanted an aircraft to replace its fuel-hungry de Havilland Comets. G-BAFZ was the first aircraft to arrive, followed by G-BAEF and G-BAJW.
Before the type could be introduced into service, the 727s would need to be modified to be allowed to operate on the British civil aircraft register.
This included introducing a stall warning system known as a “stick pusher.” The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had demanded that all aircraft with a T-tail have a stall protection system. This followed several deep stall incidents with this type of aircraft. This cost DA an estimated £100,000 per aircraft.
The passenger cabin was also reconfigured to accommodate 153 passengers. Engineers also installed an additional over-wing emergency exit to accommodate the increased number of seats. DA also required an extra fuel tank to allow the aircraft to fly from Berlin, where the airline was a major operator, to Tenerife non-stop and without restrictions.
Enter The -200 Advanced
In March 1980, DA welcomed the larger -200 series Advanced into its fleet. G-BHNE was purchased from Sterling Airways (NB).
However, the 727s proved to be a financial burden for DA. The airline’s last Chairman, David James, said: “The Boeing 727s were a terrible burden. They were so expensive to fly. we were flying them just to pay to keep them flying.”
The last -100 series was retired on October 31, 1990. Seven -200s would survive until the airline was taken over by British Airways (BA) in 1992. DA’s final -200 flight took place on November 1, 1992, between London Gatwick (LGW) and Oslo Fornebu Airport (FBU).
Featured image: G-BAFZ was the airline’s maiden Boeing 727. Photo: Piergiuliano Chesi, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons